Friday, March 29, 2013

Autism comments that are really not helpful: 'The Australian Autism Handbook'

I was very pleased to receive an advance copy of the newly revised 'The Australian Autism Handbook' - it's out on Monday April 2, 2013.

I bought the first edition of the book as soon as I sought and received an autism diagnosis for my son, when he was age two.

It has proven to be a mini god-send in every way: stories, resources, and confidence in what I am doing to help my son - the lot.

This section, below, had the most effect on me. If you have a child with an autism diagnosis you will understand why.

Here is an extract [with my own comments below each], reproduced with kind permission from the authors Benison O'Reilly and Kathryn Wicks and Jane Curry Publishing:

The new book cover is below:

'Comments that are REALLY NOT HELPFUL' [I love the authors' use of caps!]:

'Oh, he will grow out of it.'
[No, he or she won't. They learn skills to cope and flourish. But grow out of it. No.]

'Well, he looks alright to me.'
[Autism need not be 'visible' for it to exist.]

'Three is too young to label a child'.
[The earlier the intervention, the better. Kids can be diagnosed as young as two, sometimes even younger. And it's not a label. That's what YOU'RE doing - labelling. A diagnosis means help for the child, sooner.]

'God only gives special children to the special parents.'
[Um, thanks? I know the intention of this one is often kind, but sometimes... this comment grates a little. Oh, so you got the 'non-special' child and you're leading a less troublesome life because you are a not so special parent?]

'Oh, don't worry about that. All children... chew their clothes/tantrum/spin objects in front of their eyes.'
[I know this one is intended to help me feel better about my child - "look, my son is quirky, too!" - but autism is vastly different from the quirks all young kids have.]

'You've got to look after yourself you know, dear.'
[Yes, that I know. But the role of a carer/advocate/autism mum demands you put your child first. And so, a mani/pedi appointment or gym session is put last on the list... intervention appointments are never missed. That's the difference.]

'Maybe you shouldn't work so much.'
[Way to lay on more guilt! This one would have cut me up big time if it was uttered... because I grappled with this one myself in the early days of my son's diagnosis. Did I work too much, even if it was from home? That one just didn't wash when I examined it... I have twins. One autistic, one not. And I interacted with them in equal amounts. And just as it is for mothers of neurotypical children, work is often an escape from parenting, with a nice bonus that we make money we need for the family... or, you know, for shoes.]

Also, add authors Benison and Kathryn, lengthy descriptions of children who are doing so well at ballet/school/music lessons etc can be a bit hard to hear, especially in the early days.

Agreed... in the early days. Now, it's a mutual brag fest amongst us, in the nicest possible way, and I like it. Who doesn't want to tell friends how well their child is doing, and perhaps especially so if your child has had and continues to have challenges. The victories are to be celebrated, so come join us!

I can also add to the above list; I was told by a fellow school mum [who'd just met me, and cast eyes on my son for a few seconds] that my son "doesn't belong in that autism class!"

Oh, really? So you say he doesn't 'look' autistic, which means you don't know what autism 'looks like', you have no special needs background, and now you're questioning my decision to place him in an autism support class? Breathtaking - in the worst possible way.

Thick skin. We autism mums need it.

What have you been told about autism that kinda knocked you for six? 

Here are the book authors, Benison and Kathryn:
Benison O'Reilly  and Kathryn Wicks

You can 'like' the book's Facebook page by clicking this link.